Thursday, April 19, 2007

We need to talk about gun ownership

For as long as I can remember, the NRA has been vocal and aggressive in pushing its misinterpretation of the Second Amendment in order that they might arm themselves to their hearts' content. The time has come, nay, is long past, when Congress must face up to them and bring some sense to the nation's gun laws.

The Second Amendment is not a blanket permission for universal gun ownership; it applies only to a "well-regulated militia", or organized citizen army, in a time of war, and protects its right to store guns in the home, rather than in an armory, for such a purpose. Gun ownership beyond that is NOT protected by Constitutional law; and sophisticated automatic weaponry could not possibly have been addressed in 1776. Ideally, gun ownership should be a states' rights issue, since every community has its own concerns.

In any event, it is time that the issue is opened for debate. This is not a call for a ban on guns, simply a call for discussion in order to break the hold the NRA exerts on Congress and on Americans' opinions. We have no reason to be surprised when events such as the tragedy at Virginia Tech occur. Our gun laws are too permissive: there are too many guns in circulation, and we are too anxious to use them. We must begin a discussion about what guns mean to us and our society before such a tragedy happens again.



Tom Clark said...

"Whether you are looking for a pistol for
affordable training or simply the excitement
of shooting, the P22 is the pistol for you!"

That's the ad on the Walther website for the student-reaper, a Walther .22.

Not that Walther, or its fellow gun-maker, Glock, which crafted the other Weapon of Student Mass Destruction, the Glock 7mm, kept all of the killer kid's money. The gun makers religiously tithe a portion of their grim reapings to their friends in Washington.

This report isn't about gun control legislation or the right to bear arms or any of that sideways crap. This is about a group of co-conspirators who dropped two killing devices into the hands of 23-year-old Cho Seung-hui who shouldn't have had access to a plastic spoon.

What we saw at Virginia Tech was just a concentrated node of a larger, nationwide killing spree that goes on day after day in the USA. Eighty-thousand Americans take a bullet from a hand gun in any year. Thirty-thousand die.

That's one thousand shooting deaths off-camera for each victim at Virginia Tech.

President Bush at the school for his photo op. The President is, "saddened and angered by these senseless acts of violence." But will our senseless and violent President do anything about it?

He already has: On July 29, 2005, the US Senate passed, then Bush signed, a grant of immunity from lawsuits for Walther, Glock and other gun manufacturers.

Now, corporations that make hand-guns can't be sued for knowingly selling firearms to killers. Like that? No other industry has such wide lawsuit immunity -- not teachers, not doctors, not cops -- only gun makers.

Here's how Cho got his guns. It's a story you won't hear on CNN. It begins with something known as, The Iron Pipeline. At one end of the Pipeline are states like Alabama where gun laws are slack. Gun makers including Glock stuff the Alabama end of the pipe with far more guns than can ever be bought legally in that state, knowing full well that the guns will be illegally shipped up the pipeline into states where gun laws are tougher. Virginia law prevents "gun-trafficking"; in Alabama, they couldn't care less.

In every state in America, a bar owner is liable to lawsuit if a bartender serves too many drinks and a customer dies in an auto accident. Hand a chainsaw to a child, you're in legal trouble. Until Bush signed the 2005 protect-the-gun-makers law, the same common law against negligent distribution applied to firearms.

Bush was aiming at Stephen Fox. Steven can describe feeling pieces of his brain fly from his skull after a mugger shot him. He's permanently paralyzed. A jury charged the makers of .25-caliber hand guns with negligent distribution -- and Bush went wild.

He was especially worked up because the City of New Orleans sued the gun makers for the cost of hospitalizing cops shot by armaments pouring out the end of the Iron Pipeline. The NAACP joined in the suit with the effrontery to demand the gun-pushers alter their marketing programs to keep their products out of the hands of maniacs and murderers.

Do the gun manufacturers know their products are being used for something other than hunting long-horned elk? Every year, the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency sends 800,000 requests to the gun companies to trace weapons found at crime scenes.

But they're safe; the gun-makers, even if we aren't, because of Bush's immunity law. But Bush didn't act alone. There was Harry Reid, leader of the Senate Democrats, riding shotgun on the immunity bandwagon.

When will Americans give up their insane gun culture - never I'm afraid.

(From a friend in Canada...)

Dave Scherman said...

Well said, Tom. President Bush's reaction to any attempt at questioning the unlimited right of gun ownership is a perfect example of how the issue is treated by people who disdain government in general. We have to establish guidelines for the usefulness of owning guns, and workable laws for their purchasing and sale. As people develop more distrust of one another, the rate at which we shoot one another continues to climb. Is there an end in sight? It's going to take some doing...